Poll numbers released by the New York Times today show that 66 percent of adult New Yorkers think bike lanes are a good idea, joining a growing body of public opinion data that indicates strong local support for bike infrastructure.
Just two years ago, the Times noted that “there have been no independent polls of New Yorkers’ attitudes on bicycle lanes.” Now, the Times itself joins Quinnipiac (which has polled the issue three times) and Marist in producing a citywide survey that shows New Yorkers support bike lanes and bike-share by significant margins. Perhaps it’s time local politicians took notice.
Despite the positive numbers, reporters Michael Grynbaum and Marjorie Connolly imparted a decidedly glass-half-empty spin.
A third of respondents said they own a bike, with half of them riding at least once a week. While this works out to be more than a million adults riding at least once a week, the Times said that this proves “bicycling remains far from mainstream in New York City.”
What’s more, it appears as though more than half of respondents have a bike in their household (Times phrasing: “nearly half said nobody in their household had one”). This would actually put NYC’s household bike ownership rate above its car ownership rate, which is about 46 percent of households, according to the most recent Census data.
In addition to finding that majorities in all five boroughs support bike lanes, the Times provides some numbers to follow up on last week’s Q Poll that found 74 percent of New Yorkers think bike-share is a good idea. The Times again emphasized the negative, reporting that because 40 percent of respondents had not heard of Citi Bike before it’s even opened, it “has not generated much interest.” The Times doesn’t reveal the percentage of New Yorkers who have heard of Citi Bike, but assuming it’s around 60 percent, it would work out to nearly 4 million people.
The article also casts aspersions on the appeal of bike-share because “more than half of New Yorkers said they were not likely at all to use the service.” For comparison’s sake, 24,212 people have annual Capital Bikeshare memberships, equal to 2.9 percent of the population of Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Virginia. If, say, a quarter of New Yorkers use Citi Bike, the system would be overwhelmed by demand.